Stansfield Albert Fuller, his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, Stansfield Jr. and Norman, sailed from Liverpool, England, to America aboard the Ivernia. They arrived at Boston on April 25, 1907.
Stansfield Sr. was a dentist. The family settled first into a home on Algonquin Street in Providence and then later moved to Chestnut Street in Cranston.
Nineteen-year-old Stansfield Jr. became a private in Troop M of the Rhode Island National Guard’s 1st Cavalry in 1916. As the 10-year Mexican Revolution was in full swing, one of his duties was to guard the Mexican-United States border at the cavalry’s camp, Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas.
On Sept. 10 of that year, while on duty at the camp, he was kicked in the abdomen by a mule, an animal known for delivering powerful blows backward as well as sideways. Stansfield died at the base hospital the following morning at 8:30 of the injurious rupture he received.
His funeral was held at 4 p.m. in the chapel at Peak’s Undertaking Rooms. The chaplain of the Massachusetts Light Artillery Regiment performed the service. His body was then escorted to the train station and sent back to his parents’ home in Rhode Island.
It took eight years for the Fullers to receive the military gratuity pay following their son’s death. Because Stansfield Jr. had not specified prior to his death which family members he wished to have this payment made to should he lose his life while serving his country, the money could not follow the usual channel.
Before the Fullers would be allowed the gratuity payment, the House of Representatives first had to pass a bill stating they were eligible for it. In March of 1924, the bill was passed, directing that Stansfield Sr. and Elizabeth be awarded six months gratuity pay as compensation for the loss of their teenage son. The amount of the check was $90.
Kelly Sullivan is a Rhode Island columnist, lecturer and author.
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